What is End-to-end Encryption (E2EE)?

icon Posted by: Praveen Joshi
icon October 14, 2022

In Brief

End-to-end Encryption: What is it? 

E2EE or End to End Encryption is a data safety protocol where the end host implements encryption over the data to avoid malicious activities. It is an advanced application of asymmetric encryption to make sure the data communication is completely secure. When end-to-end encryption is deployed to any communication, the messages are decipherable only by the sender and the receiver. No one, neither the government authorities nor the server through which the data is passing can decrypt the messages. Even if someone intercepts the messages in between, they will get their hands on some random lines of encryption code. End-to-end encryption was originally developed to protect email messaging across the internet. However, now it is used in all kinds of messaging services including messaging and chatting apps. Today End-to-end Encryption is among the top Cyber Security Solutions for communications-related data safety. 

65%

of messages from Gmail to other providers are encrypted.

50%

of messages to Gmail from other providers are encrypted.

51%

of communication sector organizations were targeted by cyberattacks in 2021.

30%

of businesses reported credential theft last year

How E2EE is Different from Other Types of Encryptions? 

Lots of communication and messaging services are encryption enabled. However, the mechanism is quite different in traditional encryptions. Here the encrypted message travels from the sender’s device and reaches the server of the messaging service. At the server, the message is briefly decrypted and then encrypted back. So, the encrypted message the receiver gets is not getting decrypted firsthand. The server is aware of the contents of the message. This is all about the Common Encryption Protocol.  

It is just like your letter being opened at the post office and read by the officials and staff there before they send it to the person to whom the letter is. This mechanism does not ensure the complete safety and privacy of critical data and information. Also, it poses a constraint for Cyber security verification and validation for a business organization if it relies on long-distance communications for its crucial business operations.  

End-to-end Encryption gives an assurance that no one else gets their hand on the message before or even after it reaches the receiver. This is like using an unbreachable lockbox to deliver your letter packed in instead of a paper envelope. Hence, E2EE is guaranteed privacy for communication and messaging data.  

How does End-to-End Encryption Work? 

End-to-end encryption uses an asymmetric encryption technique to secure the communication data between the sender and receiver. It eliminates a process in between called key exchange that happens on the server. This bars the server from deciphering the plain text inside the message. All the server gets to see is unreadable ciphertext that only authorized parties can decode using the right cryptographic key. No one between the receiver and the sender can decode the message. And this includes your network administrator, your internet service provider (ISP), hackers, the government, and even the company that facilitates your communication.  

Only the receiver has the right cryptographic key to decrypt the encrypted data. So, the plain text in the message will only be visible to the receiver. Even if someone somehow intercepts the message in between, only some random characters and lines of code will be accessible to them which won’twill not make any sense.  

The following is a stepwise schematic for an end-to-end encrypted communication: 

  • Sender procures the receiver’s public key from the server. 
  • Sends an encrypted message using the public key. 
  • Message goes to the server. 
  • Receiver gets the encrypted message from the server. 
  • Receiver uses its private key to decrypt the message. 
  • Then the receiver gets to read the plain text within the message. 

Advantages of End-to-end Encryption 

There are multiple advantages of end-to-end encryption. It ensures that no one gets control over encryption keys and the communication data except the owner. It is not only a safety measure for data at the individual level but also enterprises and other large organizations can use it to outsource storage and communication services without compromising on security. 

Other key advantages of E2EE: 

  • Makes communication between two parties highly secure by eliminating the access of any third party to the data within the message. 
  • Sender has the authority to decide who can read the messages. 
  • Provides flexibility to the user over which data to encrypt. 
  • Protects communication data from hacking and other malicious activities. 

Before You Go! 

  • End-to-end Encryption can give you an edge for data privacy within your organization. It can also prove to be an immense help for your company’s Cyber security verification and validation. 
  • Therefore, you must always keep E2EE in mind while deploying Cyber Security Solutions to your business operations. 

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